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New LA Ordinances “Clean Up, Green Up” Industry in Residential “Toxic Hotspot” Neighborhoods

On June 4, 2016, two new Los Angeles ordinances will go into effect under the Clean Up, Green Up (CUGU) initiative.  The initiative aims to improve air quality and residential quality of life in areas with high concentrations of industrial uses.  The new laws will impose additional citywide code requirements, and create new development standards in three CUGU Supplemental Use Districts: Boyle Heights, Wilmington, and Pacoima/Sun Valley.

Citywide, the new laws will impose more rigorous Building Code requirements, including cleaner return air sources and enhanced filtration requirements for mechanically ventilated buildings.  Projects for which plans sufficient for a complete plan check are accepted by the Department of Building and Safety by June 4, 2016 are exempt from the new Code requirements.

The more rigorous Building Code requirements will be paired with a push for greater enforcement for existing regulations.  Thus, in conjunction with passing the Clean Up, Green Up ordinances, the City will create a new ombudsman role to provide assistance to businesses with environmental regulation compliance and involvement in citywide incentive programs.

The CUGU District-specific development standards will apply to both of the following: (a) new construction; and (b) construction consisting of major improvements, additions, or changes of use, in either case where the construction is undertaken (a) by either industrial businesses (the subject of the legislation), or (b) in publicly habitable spaces adjacent to industrial businesses (the legislation’s target beneficiaries) such as housing, schools, parks, hospitals, etc.  The CUGU District standards do not change permitted uses or allowable density.

All industrial businesses in CUGU Districts will be subject to unique site planning, lighting and enclosure requirements; industrial businesses located adjacent to publicly habitable spaces will be subject to additional fencing, signage, distancing, height, setback, landscaping, parking design, driveway, noise, and storage requirements.  The CUGU District standards also place new site planning, landscaping, and parking design requirements on publicly habitable spaces adjacent to industrial businesses, so as to mitigate the effects of proximity to industry.

Though the Director of Planning has discretion to allow adjustments of up to 20% from these default development standards (except for yard setbacks), development standards may be further enhanced and adjustment limits may be further restricted on an individual CUGU District basis.  All projects in CUGU Districts need administrative clearance from the Director of Planning, and all exceptions from CUGU District requirements are discretionary with the Area Planning Commission.

Finally, the laws also create a new citywide Conditional Use Permit requirement for asphalt manufacturing and refinery facilities.

The initiative was spearheaded by Councilmember Jose Huizar (Boyle Heights, CD 14), along with Councilmember Nury Martinez (Pacoima, CD 6), and former Councilmember Janice Hahn (CD 15).

Copyright © 2020, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume VI, Number 144


About this Author

Olivier Theard, Environment, Business Trial, Attorney, Sheppard Mullin, law firm

Mr. Theard practices in the Business Trial Practice Group in the Los Angeles office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton LLP.

Areas of Practice

  • Extensive experience assisting clients with environmental regulatory and permitting matters, including advice and compliance with State and Federal air quality, hazardous waste, and consumer products laws.

  • Experience in managing environmental investigation and remediation of contaminated sites.

  • ...
Kira N. Teshima, Sheppard Mullin Law Firm, Real Estate Attorney

Kira Teshima is an associate in the Real Estate, Environmental, and Land Use and Natural Resources Practice Group in the firm's Los Angeles office. 

Ms. Teshima’s practice focuses on land use and real estate matters. Ms. Teshima assists developers, large and small businesses, property owners and other private parties in complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and planning and zoning regulations; obtaining and negotiating development entitlements and regulatory approvals; drafting real estate transactional documents and easements; and government advocacy. Ms. Teshima has worked on a variety of complex housing, mixed-use development and utility scale energy projects throughout California. She also represents developers and management in traditional labor law issues, including union negotiations. Ms. Teshima advises clients on several state and federal land use and environmental laws, including CEQA, the National Environmental Policy Act, the California Coastal Act, the Subdivision Map Act, the California Public Records Act and other State and local development regulations.